Getting involved in student and professional organizations related to your desired career path is the perfect way to begin getting a sense of the field as well as making connections. This is particularly helpful for students who are new to selecting their major and are testing the waters or for those planning ahead for their entry into the workforce. Most schools offer opportunities to get involved with career-oriented organizations, but not all students are queuing up to join. Learn what percentage of students actually join career organizations and what you can do to encourage them. 

We surveyed a group of over 3,ooo college students asking them: “Are you involved in student organizations connected to your desired career?” We also also asked students: “Have you joined professional organizations related to your desired career?”

Student and professional organizations

Only 18% of college students surveyed are involved in professional organizations related to their career path, and only 23% are involved in student organizations.

Skill building

While many students consider the necessary steps to meet their career goals, some may not realize just how advantageous organizations can be for personal development. Author Christine Harrington explains multiple studies on the benefits of extracurriculars in her text Student Success in College: Doing What Works!, 2nd Edition.

Students who are connected to their college are more likely to persevere and meet their academic goals than students who do not get involved on campus (Strap & Farr, 2010). Based on their research, Huang and Cheng (2004) suggest that college students should get involved in many co-curricular activities. They found that there were cognitive and social benefits associated with being very involved on campus. Specifically, involved students had better communication skills, better interpersonal skills, and increased self-confidence. (Huang, & Cheng, 2004). (166)

Networking opportunities

The mention of networking gets some students nervous just thinking about it. But student and professional organizations serve as a great way to meet new people, make new friends, and, indeed, network for students’ future careers. And simply learning to build these types of relationships will help students in the long run.

From our blog post, “Tips for Students: Making Connections in College,”

Learning to build strong relationships helps students improve their interpersonal skills, which allows them to excel in the classroom, on a social level, as well as in the professional world. Developing interpersonal communication skills is always a work in progress but can give students a much-needed confidence boost, which will come in hand when it’s time to begin networking and making professionally beneficial connections.

Starting the task of networking within an organization of like-minded individuals can make the situation a bit easier for students. Students get to know their peers first, and networking may come as second-nature.

For more tips on networking, visit our post, “Improving Networking Effectiveness.”

Building awareness

We checked into what organizations students are members of. Popular responses were groups directly related to a field of study, such as The Accounting Association, Criminal Justice Club, Engineering Club, pre-law and pre-med societies, and The Student Nurses Association. In addition to these, many students have found value in joining their school’s honor society, Entrepreneurial Club, and academic-based sororities and fraternities.

Though many societies also have online communities, there is likely at least one relevant organization in the area for every student. Many students often admit that they are simply unaware of all their school’s facilities, including student organizations and clubs. Make sure your students know where to access information regarding our school’s organizations.

Reference: Harrington, Christine. 2016. Student Success in College: Doing What Works! A Research-Focused Approach, 2nd Edition. Boston, MA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Which clubs or organizations on your campus or in the surrounding community do you find to be most advantageous for college students? Share your thoughts below.